|"You Can't Buy This Seat!" Says Ann Keen MP|
After Conservative financer Lord Ashcroft confirms non-dom status
When Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate Mary Macleod told Channel Four news that she spends up to £2,000 on a 40,000 print-run of glossy election leaflets it provoked an outcry from political opponents over the origination of the funds used to pay for them.
Questions were raised over whether non-domicile Lord Ashcroft should have been allowed to make a donation to the Conservative Party's election campaign and how much of it is being used in marginal constituencies like Brentford and Isleworth.
Andrew Dakers, Liberal Democrat prospective parliamentary candidate, told Channel Four, “There are two issues here. One is the lack of clarity over whether he is non-domiciled or not. And the other is of course the size of the donations. Inevitably when you have a few people making such significant donations, there is a risk of undue influence."
Dakers' first question was answered by Lord Ashcroft himself who in a statement admitted that his current status was that of a ‘non-dom’ but added that “throughout the last ten years, I have declared all of my UK income to HM Revenue.”
Lord Ashcroft said he chose to make the statement because he did “not want my affairs to distract from the general election campaign” adding that “two of Labour's biggest donors - Lord Paul (recently made a privy councillor by the Prime Minister) and Sir Ronald Cohen, both long-term residents of the UK, are also "non-doms.”
Ann Keen did not appear on the Channel Four programme explaining that she was busy with prior engagements in her role as a Government Minister. Commenting on whether she felt it appropriate for Lord Ashcroft to be allowed to fund an election campaign, Ann Keen said, “It is for the local people to decide. I am an experienced MP with a proven track record of delivering change in the constituency. Judge that, against PR stunts, glossy air brushed images and donations to the Tory campaign from abroad. You can’t buy this seat!”
Brentford Labour Councillor Matt Harmer insisted Mrs Keen was an "excellent hard-working MP" who was "facing somebody who's come in at the last minute with a huge sum of money behind them."
March 5, 2010